A Very Good Year
06/02/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT
Reality makes for strange bedfellows. In the blink of an eye—along with a final rose and a sparkler from Harry Winston—Jennifer Schefft's life has gone from The Bachelor to something resembling Three's Company. Having accepted the proposal of millionaire California vintner Andrew Firestone on the May 18 episode of the ABC romance series, the 26-year-old account executive from Chicago will soon move in with her new fiancé, 27, and his roommate, insurance salesman Kevin Krystofiak, 26, in the men's two-bedroom apartment in San Francisco. "Last night Jen and I went over house rules—bathroom time, where you're supposed to dry your hair and whatnot," Krystofiak says. "She's going to live with us for the summer, and they're going to see how their relationship progresses. Then they may get a one-bedroom somewhere else. Or I may get kicked out."
And if this dream romance avoids following the show's usual scenario—both previous Bachelors dumped their picks within months—Jen and Andrew someday will tie the knot at his family's five-bedroom Santa Ynez Valley home, built on the vineyard founded by his father, Brooks Firestone, 66. If this isn't the high life of Falcon Crest, it's not jug wine either. Although the series' producers usually spring for the engagement ring, Firestone—great-grandson of the tire magnate—had a credit line big enough to pay for a little extra: an oval 2.8-carat diamond set in platinum with baguette diamonds on the side. And he is already talking about building a separate home on the 1,000-acre Firestone estate. Krystofiak thinks it will come true. "Looking at the way he interacted with her, I'm convinced they have a real shot."
Schefft's friends don't doubt that either. Watching the show with Abby Smith and other friends—The Bachelor taped in January and February—Schefft would get so flustered, she'd flee the room. "That was when we were like, 'She really likes him,' " says Smith. "She never really likes anybody, guywise." This time, though, Schefft leaped at the opportunity. "I mean, did you see how Jen grabbed for the ring?" says Smith, laughing. "She's a klutz."
Not when it comes to pushing bottles of Firestone syrah, chardonnay and merlot. She's already pitching in at the winery's tasting room. "The way she's interacted with customers and staff, it's been a treat," says brother Adam Firestone, 41. "This lady is a peach."
Meanwhile runner-up Kirsten Buschbacher, a 24-year-old Tampa resident who works for Home Shopping Network online, probably feels a bit like a bruised lemon. Although she calls her Bachelor stint "overall very positive," she admits she was "shocked" by the brouhaha over her ex-boyfriend in the final episode. In a moment that will go down in the slim annals of reality television, her chances of becoming Mrs. Andrew Firestone were doomed after she visited the family and gave Adam the impression she hadn't fully broken up with a beau back home. ("I don't know how he came to think that," says Kirsten, who insists the romance was long over.) Adam then took little brother aside and gave him the lowdown, reducing Andrew to tears. "I was probably more blunt than some of my family members," says Adam, "but they remind me of that fact every day—it's just my style." Yet right up to the end the Firestones remained unsure whether Jen or Kirsten was Andrew's choice. Cousin Mary Firestone, 26, was sure it'd be Kirsten. "Andrew had me going," she says. "He could win an Oscar for his performance."
But the Firestone clan was always rooting for Jen. "We all gathered to watch the finale," says Adam. "The reaction was overwhelming when the decision was apparent."
The couple is currently hopscotching around the country on their media honeymoon. First the show's producers threw them a party in Los Angeles (guests included Bachelorette Trista Rehn and fiancé Ryan Sutter). After that: scheduled stops in Manhattan (Good Morning America), then on to the Indianapolis 500 and Chicago to spend time with Jen's folks, David, a human-resources consultant, and Diane, a teacher. "Her mom is just thrilled," says Abby Smith. "She completely likes Andrew."
Then, at last, they'll return to that former bachelor pad. "They need space and time to do the little things," says Adam Firestone, "like grocery shopping. They're going to bumble their way through all the mechanics of a relationship, get in their fights and arguments and disagreements."
He knows whose side he'll take: "If Andrew screws this up, he's out of the family. She stays!"
Cynthia Wang in Los Angeles