'The Bachelorette' star Ashley Hebert determines final two bachelors
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 07/26/2011
The Bachelorette star Ashley Hebert said goodbye to another suitor and determined her final two men during last night's broadcast of the ABC reality dating series' seventh season.
Constantine Tzortzis, a 30-year-old restaurant owner from Atlanta, GA, eliminated himself during his ninth-episode one-on-one date after he decided he was not interested in spending the night in a fantasy suite with Ashley. Constantine expressed how he had not fallen in love with Ashley and respected her too much to pretend as if a strong connection had been built.
"The last thing I wanted to do is to walk out on her. My biggest fear was hurting Ashley or embarrassing her. That's why it kind of took me a little bit of time to figure out that it wasn't going to the next level. I don't think that I could look back at one point and say, 'Oh my God, I wasn't being completely open and willing to find love.' I was. I'm absolutely ready to find it had it been there," Constantine said after quitting the show.
Afterwards, Ashley also turned down the request of previously ousted bachelor Ryan Park, a 31-year-old solar energy executive from Corona Del Mar, CA, to return to the show and get a second shot at making a relationship with her work.
The Bachelorette's ninth seventh-season episode began with the remaining three bachelors traveling to Fiji for the week's special overnight dates -- the first time this season Ashley would be afforded the chance to spend private time with the guys alone.
Before Ashley embarked on her one-on-one date with Ben Flajnik, a 28-year-old winemaker from Sonoma, CA, Ashley got a surprise visitor at her house at the Namale Resort and Spa and was startled by a knock at the door. She discovered Ryan had flown to Fiji to talk to her in search of some much needed closure.
"I'm going to surprise Ashley. She has no idea I'm here. I just feel there are things unsaid and undiscovered between the two of us, and I got to explore it. I gotta see it through. We had something. What if she's regretting sending me home? I gotta see Ashley one more time to say, 'Do you feel at all like I do? That we didn't spend enough time together?' I want to be able to feel that I put everything on the line to see if there is love to be had out of this," Ryan said before meeting Ashley.
"If she says she wants to give it more of a try, then great. It could be the most magical moment that we look back on for the rest of our lives."
Ryan and Ashley sat down and talked, and he wanted to know if she felt for him like he still felt for her. He said he was aware their date in Taiwan lacked passion but explained their surroundings and activities left little possibility to induce a romantic chemistry. Ryan went on to say he didn't think they had a chance to see things through and wasn't ready to give up on it.
Admitting he thought about her nonstop and had to see her again, Ryan told Ashley he had called The Bachelorette host Chris Harrison asking for an opportunity to talk to her again. He said he worried she gave up on them as a couple too soon.
"All I'm asking for, and I can live with the answer either way -- I feel like we didn't have a full chance. If you sat back and regretted anything, if you thought about me at all or if you thought, 'Wow, maybe we should have had more time together,'if that's in your mind at all then I want to spend more time with you so bad," Ryan told Ashley, adding he felt something was there.
Ashley was caught offguard and flustered over Ryan's invitation, while Ryan -- shaking throughout the entire exchange -- told her he didn't want a response right away and he wanted her to think about it. He said he'd wait for her for a few days until she was ready to tell him how she felt.
"The book's not closed yet unless Ashley says that it is. I'll wait for her," Ryan said, adding he was ready to fight for love and wanted to put himself out there and take a risk in order to find it.
Later on, Ashley and Ben met up at a dock for their date, and Ben learned they'd be taking a yacht out onto the water and spending the day together sailing. They talked about Ashley's visit to Ben's hometown and her concern his mom didn't like her. However, Ben assured Ashley his mother loved seeing him happy and open again, which meant she loved seeing them together.
Ashley and Ben shared many kisses on the boat, lied together in the sun and followed their intimate time together with a little scuba diving adventure. Ben said everything felt so good with Ashley and his The Bacheloretteexperience allowed him to open himself up again and couldn't have been happier about his progress.
Ashley said she was so comfortable with Ben and felt like he was already her boyfriend. They both commented on how much they laugh together and have such fun times as a couple. She loved Ben's "hunger for life," while Ben admitted the moments they shared would be ones he'd remember forever.
They then watched the sunset together, held each other and kissed.
"I'm into her. I am falling for this girl. I really am. There's so much I want to tell her and unfortunately, today's not the right time. I will tell her this weekend," Ben said.
Later that night, the couple enjoyed an outdoor candlelit dinner.
"It's been a long time since I've felt this way about someone, since I've been in love. It's finally starting to set in the fact that the next step is a really big step. I think I'm going to tell Ashley tonight. I am definitely nervous. It's hard for me to say because I don't say it very often. I am going to sincerely mean it and it will be difficult, but I'm looking for to it," Ben explained.
He later commented how the date was "hysterically perfect" and was beaming because their intense connection could only get better from that point on. While Ben tried to tell Ashley he loved her, he hinted around it but just couldn't come right out and say it. Ben told her he was available to her and was thankful he met her.
"My feelings have grown for you and I'm on my way to the whole, 'I love you thing,'" Ben told Ashley.
Ashley then offered Ben the key to the couple's fantasy date suite and he gladly accepted. They left dinner, swam in their private pool and then continued to kiss.
"It is a great love story and it is romantic -- this whole journey that's opened him up to the possibility of love," Ashley said. "I know that Ben has very strong feelings for me. I know that it's real and I'm feeling as strong for him as I ever have. I can see myself with Ben and I can say I'm really falling in love with him."
The next day, it was time for Ashley and Constantine to enjoy their one-on-one date together. Ashley, although excited to see Constantine, admitted she needed to discover whether they could actually fall in love -- as they had been moving slowly throughout the process.
"Today is crucial because we're running out of time. I have to be sure that he's going to allow himself to fall in love here," Ashley said.
Ashley then told Constantine they'd be taking a helicopter ride around some of the islands and enjoying the beautiful scenery together.
After their romantic helicopter ride, Ashley and Constantine went cliff jumping by a waterfall and Ashley hoped their activity would be symbolic of how their relationship was progressing. She said she was hoping he'd be able to take a leap of faith and jump further into their relationship without restraint.
The couple then shared a picnic by the river and discussed the hometown date they shared with Constantine's family. Ashley asked Constantine how many houses he looked at before buying, and after he answered 108, Ashley looked concerned and puzzled.
However, Constantine read her face and insisted his relationships with women and how he normally dated women were entirely different matters. He acknowledged his hesitance to buy a house should not reflect a fear of commitment.
Ashley worried Constantine needed more time that they didn't have, and while the couple both seemingly wanted to take their relationship to the next level, it later became apparent the connection couldn't be forced.
Ashley and Constantine then went to dinner that night and Ashley wished she could figure everything out between them. Ashley asked Constantine how he would feel if she ended up with his good friend Ben, and Constantine said he'd be happy for them because he knew Ben was a great guy -- a potential red flag signaling maybe Constantine wouldn't mind if Ashley didn't choose him in the end when Ben and J.P. were head over heels for The Bachelorette star.
Ashley then asked him whether he ever became consumed in his emotions. He told her, "absolutely," but Ashley then realized those emotions were not portrayed when he was around her.
"It's like I don't feel like you want to hold my hand or be around me all the time. I don't know, it's hard because I have nothing to feed off of. I think time is what we need and I'm hoping that tonight we can figure it out," Ashley told Constantine.
"Things come naturally to me in relationships. Being a loving person, doing thoughtful things for somebody, holding somebody's hand, holding them, kissing them, those are things that I do without thinking about them -- instinctively, I do them. I haven't been able to do that. There's been times when I've been slow but that's because I'm unsure," Constantine said.
Ashley asked whether it was the process or her that was making him withdraw, and he said he hadn't held back anything.
Constantine then expressed how he would want to feel 110% percent confident when asking Ashley's father's permission for her hand in marriage. He said he would want to do it with the utmost respect and be completely convinced it was right for him, but he just didn't have that feeling when it came to Ashley.
"This fantasy suite, I know what it means and I know what it implies. I told myself that if I wasn't in love with you, I wouldn't accept the fantasy suite, and I just want to show you a level of respect. I'm not pretending. I haven't been pretending about anything and I don't want to start doing that now. I respect you too much as a person to make this any harder than it needs to be," Constantine told Ashley.
"If we're going to be honest about it, this means it's the end of the road for me."
Ashley said she was glad he was real about it and honest. She didn't want Constantine to act like he had feelings for her that may not have ever existed.
"I'm shocked that he didn't at least want to give it the time to see if there was anything there," Ashley said.
The next day, Ashley visited Ryan where he was staying to discuss their future and finally give him the answers he was looking for.
Ryan told Ashley he had such a natural attraction to her and his heart pounded out of his chest when he saw her. Ashley told Ryan saying goodbye to him the first time was the hardest goodbye she had to face all season, and Ryan returned the compliment by telling her he got extremely emotional after his elimination.
Ashley told Ryan that she thought he was one of the best guys she had ever met in her life and believed he was everything she was looking for. However, she told him she knew she had made the right decision.
"I didn't feel that passion, and I know that's what I need in a relationship. The truth is, I found that -- actually, with two people," Ashley said.
"So you're happy?" Ryan asked.
"I am happy, very happy," Ashley replied.
Ryan then told Ashley he was happy for her and although he wished there'd be an amazing ending to their love story, Ashley wasn't sure their love story ever really began.
"It hurts again right now. It hurts to hear no and someone say, 'You're not it.' She just doesn't have the passion for me, but she clearly has it for someone else. So, good for her. I hope she lives a long and happy life with whoever that lucky guy is, because she's an amazing girl," Ryan said following his exit.
"My life's great, but it's missing one thing. It's missing real love... I'm not going to hold back ever again. It will happen. It will happen. It will happen."
Later on, Ashley met up with J.P. Rosenbaum, a 34-year-old construction manager from New York, NY, for their one-on-one date. They took a seaplane together and flew over Fiji, an intimate setting where they didn't even find it necessary to talk. They just loved being in each other's company.
Afterward, they landed on a beach and spent time alone in the water and sun. J.P. told her his family "adored her" and she'd be "a welcome addition to the family." Ashley was thrilled J.P.'s family was taken with her, but J.P. was the most taken of all. He told her he pictured the end with her and wanted it to be him that she chose.
"It's like the world has ended and the two of us were put on this island," J.P. said, adding he wasn't going to let anything ruin their time together.
Ashley and J.P. kissed in the ocean, splashed around and just deepened their obvious connection.
"I think J.P. and I feel the same. We have that passion where we don't want to be away from each other and you just want to be with each other. I feel like what we have is something very special, and I think that it could last a lifetime," Ashley said.
"When I look at Ashley, I see the woman that I want to spend the rest of my life with, and any other worry that I would have had fades away. It's just me and her. It's how things should be, and it just feels right. I think it's pretty safe to say that I'm definitely falling in love with Ashley. The only way this date could be topped is if she were to say, 'You're it. You're the only one left and you're the only one I want to be with," J.P. explained.
That night, the couple enjoyed an outdoor dinner in the jungle, and J.P. admitted he didn't know whether he was ready to tell Ashley he was in love with her because other guys were still involved. Ashley then told him she let two guys go -- Constantine and Ryan. J.P. was excited Ashley knew exactly what she wanted.
Ashley then asked J.P. whether he was in it because it was a competition and he hoped to win her or if it was because he was truly falling in love with her. J.P. responded that it had nothing to do with wanting to beat the other guys; He just wanted her.
J.P. then accepted the overnight fantasy date invitation, and explained how he had been waiting for this time alone with Ashley for so long. They entered their villa together and J.P. described it as nothing less than "perfect." Ashley said she only wanted to smile when she was with J.P.
"I'm still not going to tell her exactly how I feel. I'm still afraid. I still don't want to get hurt. I still need to know more about how she feels about me before I completely let go. But I know I'm there, and I know I'm in love with her. Today has been an unbelievable day. The fantasy suite was an absolutely perfect ending to a perfect day, and I'm ready to spend some alone time with Ashley, with the girl I'm in love with," J.P. explained.
The following day, Ashley sat down and talked to Chris about how her experience had been progressing. She admitted she was the most compatible with Ben but couldn't describe her feelings for J.P. She felt her and J.P. would make each other very happy.
Meanwhile, she talked about Constantine and said she was just fighting for something that wasn't even there, and Ashley told Chris it was harder to say goodbye to Ryan -- because she hated hurting him, knowing he was such a good guy that cared about her -- than Constantine because he intentionally left.
Ashley then requested to have a Rose Ceremony although there were two roses and two men left standing. She explained how she wanted to make sure the bachelors were in it for love just as much as she was. It wasn't just her choosing her bachelors but them choosing her and wanting to fall in love with her as well.
Ashley wanted to know whether the men would truly accept her roses, allowing herself to be vulnerable and determine whether her final two suitors were ready for a serious commitment or even an engagement.
The Bachelorette's ninth Rose Ceremony then commenced, and Ashley gave roses to Ben followed by J.P. -- both of whom willingly accepted.
(Photo credit ABC)
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