What an emotional week. I tried to go a whole season without crying but who was I kidding! The emotions this week were as raw and genuine as they get.
The week started off with my first one on one date with Dylan. At the last rose ceremony, Dylan had alluded to me that he had gone through some family struggles in his life. I could sense that this was something deep so I felt it only right to give Dylan the privacy of a one-on-one date to share his story with me if he wanted to.
I loved the train ride with Dylan and seeing him have a connection to the place he grew up. Although Dylan is extremely handsome and sweet, he had up to this point been extremely shy and nervous with me. I think being so close to home really helped Dylan show me more of who he really is. Dinner was an emotional conversation but one that I felt so honored to be a part of.
As he told me about the death of his brother and sister, I felt pure sadness for him. There are things in life nobody should have to go through and yet Dylan went through it twice. I tried my best to hold it together in front of Dylan but it was hard to hold the tears back.
I felt not only sadness for him but I also felt this huge sense of honor that Dylan was willing to share such a personal and heartbreaking story with me and with everyone watching at home.
I know that wasn't easy for Dylan to share, but I'm just relieved that he felt comfortable enough to open up. I could tell Dylan was concerned that he might only be getting the rose out of sympathy so I wanted to reassure him that by giving him the rose I felt like both our guards had been let down and we could finally start this journey together and see what happens.
Playing BasketballThe group date was one for the ages. The guys had a feeling they would be playing basketball, but I don't think any of them knew they would be playing against some of the WNBA's superstars. The ladies were so much fun, not only did they school the guys on the court (no offense men) but they even made up nicknames for each of the guys. They called Cody "Muscles." Andrew was "Water Boy" because he wasn't very good and sat on the sidelines. Marquel, obviously the "Cookie Monster," haha.
Even though we were having a lot of fun, I felt like the guys could use some healthy competition. The ladies helped me pick teams and I decided that the losing team would go back to the hotel and the winning team would have a cocktail party with me.
During that first half, the game was so close. They were going basket for basket. After halftime, the Rosebuds just dominated. The 5 of Hearts could not get it together and I could see them getting increasingly frustrated. Ultimately, the Rosebuds won and although I was happy for them, I felt awful for the losing team because they really tried until the very last second!
The Rosebuds and I had a cocktail party that evening, and I really enjoyed my time with them. Nick and I had great chemistry that night and was a perfect follow up to our one-on-one date.
Just like in Santa Barbara, I felt like Nick and I continued to have this intense mental and physical connection. The kisses were amazing and he definitely knows how to make me feel like a woman, and I loved how passionate he was. I was really proud that Eric and I could be honest about our relationship and start to be more open with each other.
Throughout the cocktail party, I kept thinking about the losing team and the look of defeat on their faces. What you didn't see was that after the cocktail party, I actually went up to the guys' suite and hung out with all of them, including the losing team. I just felt at the time that I wanted the losing team to know that I still appreciated their efforts and cared for them. I really hope they appreciated that because I know I enjoyed seeing them – even if they were in their pajamas.
Facing Fears with MarcusThe date with Marcus was a huge challenge for both of us. I am terrified of heights and so is Marcus. I felt like it was the perfect way for both of us to overcome our fears and form a bond. That morning I was so scared getting ready that I had to put my hair into a Katniss Everdeen braid for extra confidence.
When Marcus and I got up on the roof of the Mohegan Sun, it was so windy that we could barely stand up. I couldn't believe we were even contemplating rappelling 30 stories down and in that wind. Part of me still thinks I was crazy for doing that. My body physically would not step off the ledge, but Marcus was remarkable in encouraging me. Not only did Marcus step up and really get me down the building, but he also did so while conquering his own fears as well.
I gave Marcus the rose but had one last surprise for him: a concert by Jon Pardi! Marcus, being the good Texas guy that he was, knew all the words! It was a great concert and I loved dancing with Marcus and feeling just pure happiness with him.
Remembering EricThe rose ceremony was obviously extremely difficult, especially in light of the passing of Eric. In all honesty it is almost unbearable knowing that my last conversation with someone wasn't the best.
It's something that will always linger with me, yet it teaches me that life can be short and not every day is promised. Of all the things I thought I would learn from this journey, the preciousness of life wasn't one I expected to learn, but I did and I have Eric to thank for that.
Thanks as always for reading and watching. Please tune in two weeks from tonight for the next leg of my journey as I take the remaining men off to Marseille, France – right on the beautiful Mediterranean.