The Bachelorette bachelor Arie Luyendyk Jr. has emerged as one of the frontrunners to win the heart of Emily Maynard.

Emily seemed to confide in Arie and didn't mind showing him affection in front of the other guys or stealing him away for some alone time on group dates. However, after Kalon McMahon referred to Emily's daughter Ricki as "baggage" and Arie didn't step up to the plate and immediately relay the news to Emily, The Bachelorette star began questioning how strong her relationship with Arie really was and whether he'd have her back going forward.

During a Friday conference call with reporters, Arie talked to Reality TV World about his experience thus far on The Bachelorette and how he will be "breaking the rules" during next week's broadcast -- including when he first heard about Kalon's "baggage" comment, how much he believed Emily liked him at this point in the season, and how the race car driver ended up on The Bachelorette and whether it was a coincidence considering Emily's background story or an intentional move on the part of the show's producers.

Below is the first portion of Arie's call. Check back with Reality TV World on Monday for the concluding portion.

Reality TV World: Emily seemed the most upset with you about how none of the guys had come forward to tell her about Kalon's  "baggage" comment sooner. I know you regretted not saying anything and that your conversation with Emily at that night's cocktail party didn't go well, so did you feel like that incident put a dent in your relationship? Did you feel at that point you'd have to work to get things good between you two again or did you feel like Emily just let it go quickly and was ready to move on?

Arie Luyendyk Jr: No, I definitely felt like I could've handled that better and you'll see on this next episode that I definitely break the rules to make sure Emily knows where I'm coming from. So I take a big step this week coming up and that's something I felt that I had to do after London.

Reality TV World: When did you first hear about Kalon's "baggage" comment? Was it talking to Chris Bukowski during the group date or were you actually present for the conversation the night before?

Arie Luyendyk Jr: No, and that's -- I actually was not present for the conversation and I did hear about it right before I saw Emily on the group date. So that's why it was kind of tough for me to swallow, because I just heard the comment come from Chris, but since I didn't hear it from Kalon and I wasn't there, I felt like it really wasn't my place to say anything.

Reality TV World: It's been clear to viewers that you've been a frontrunner so far this season, as it seems obvious to the other guys in the house as well. While you were on the show, at this point in the competition, did you feel like you were closer to winning Emily's heart than the rest of the guys, and if not, who did you think was standing in your way? Who did you think had a great shot to end up with her?

Arie Luyendyk Jr: Oh, it's so hard to say. Because everyone, literally everyone, comes home from a date and they say it's the most amazing time and everyone talks about how close they are with Emily. So, I really didn't know. It's kind of interesting because a lot of the guys didn't really want to talk about it at this point, because at this point, feelings really start getting involved.

So as far as how I felt -- how I felt I stacked up against the other guys -- I really, really didn't try to like let myself entertain that idea. Because I was just so concentrated on just trying to work on Emily and I's relationship, I tried to not let that enter my mind, because I felt like that would slow us down.

Reality TV World: At this point in the season, how strong were your feelings for Emily? It's clear you liked her a lot, but were you falling in love with her or maybe even in love with her?

Arie Luyendyk Jr: You'll definitely see a progression this week on this week's episode, so that's something that I'd love for you to watch on-screen. But yeah, of course. I have really strong feelings for her at this point. I definitely break the rules this week to make sure that she knows that and it was kind of crazy, but I'm proud of it, that I did it and I took a chance and broke the rules to express how I felt.

Reality TV World: During Monday night's Rose Ceremony, what was going through your mind when Emily let the last rose come down to you and Alejandro Velez? Did you think you were going home because of how you handled the "baggage" incident or were you pretty confident Emily wouldn't give up on your relationship just because of that and that she'd give you the rose?

Arie Luyendyk Jr: I still felt confident, but I definitely felt that she had sent me a clear message. It was noted. I really felt like I needed to step up to the plate a little bit more, so by her sending me -- giving me -- the last rose, that helped me realize that without just coming out and saying it.   

Reality TV World: There's been some skepticism that you, being a race car driver, just happened to apply for The Bachelorette considering the coincidence of Emily's background story and her ex-fiance Ricki. So why did you initially apply to go on the show and how did that come about? Did you apply on your own because you wanted a chance with Emily or did you not know much about Emily prior to appearing on the show?

Arie Luyendyk Jr: Well, I didn't know anything about Emily -- well I mean, I've watched a little bit of The Bachelor, the season with Ben and Courtney. And I was actually at a race and I got a conference call from the producers asking me about another driver, and so we talked about that other driver, and eventually I was like, "This guy is probably not ready to settle down."

And then jokingly I just said, "Well, what about me?" And they sort of laughed it off and they said, "Well, we'll let you know if there's an opening, but we think we have everybody." And then a lot of time went by and they called me back, and it was very close to taping. They said, "Are you still interested?"

And by that time, I knew Emily was The Bachelorette, and one of my friends who watches the show all the time -- her name's Christina -- she just told me, "You need to go on the show. Emily is right for you. I know your personality. I know your type." So when they called back, I said, "Yes, definitely."

For me, it was so unexpected and it was very cool, because when I showed up, I didn't know anything about her. I didn't know her last name. All I saw was a picture on an iPhone from Google and it was cool, because I really went into it sort of with no expectations, and I think that's what made it the most fun.

Reality TV World: Would you ever consider proposing to Emily without bonding with and really getting to know her daughter Ricki first? What are your thoughts on that?

Arie Luyendyk Jr: I think you'll definitely have to see the show for that, because there's a lot that'll happen. And you know, I take a big risk this week and I break the rules, and I may not even get that opportunity.

Reality TV World: At this point in the season, did you feel like Emily reciprocated those feelings for you? Did you think she was falling in love with you?

Arie Luyendyk Jr: I felt like it. I felt like she gave me a lot of confidence, and I think it's always really hard -- the situation is very difficult because she's seeing other people, so you want to be reassured. And I feel like, at this point, she definitely reassured me that she had feelings for me and that's what I think made me so confident.

Reality TV World: Would you have any interest in becoming the next The Bachelor star if you don't end up with Emily?

Arie Luyendyk Jr: (Laughs) Well, you know, my fiancee might not approve of that. (Laughs) No, I'm just joking. (Laughs) Basically, it's hilarious because I know that's a hot topic right now, but who knows what will happen. If I am engaged to Emily, I don't think it's possible for me to become the next Bachelor.

Above is the first portion of Arie's call. Check back with Reality TV World on Monday for the concluding portion.
About The Author: Elizabeth Kwiatkowski
Elizabeth Kwiatkowski is Associate Editor of Reality TV World and has been covering the reality TV genre for more than a decade.