Ashley is so excited to be back in the U.S. and tells us that she is in a great place. We get to see her make some coffee in her condo/apt in Philadelphia while she reviews her relationships with each of the four remaining men. Three have moved past potential to relationship status, and Ames she finds intriguing. Her suitcase gets packed with the help of her Yorkie; she flags down a Taxi and is off to meet the Mamas.
Pizza with a kiss
Ashley is attracted to Constantine’s physical type of manliness, and she finds his personality sexy.
He waits for Ashley at a lakeside park in Cumming, GA. You can tell that spring has sprung, even on a cloudy day, because a flock of goslings follow a Mother goose across the lawn. He lifts her into a hug and takes her to sit on a picnic table where he tells her his confidence has grown since he’s been home. She learns that his real name is Dmitry, the same as his father; and she’ll also be meeting his mother, Elleni and his sister, Maria.
Before they head to the homestead, though, he takes her to the family restaurant, Giorgios. The female serving staff squees at the honor of the Bachelorette gracing their work place, and (I would think) the chance to be on camera. The Italian restaurant, run by a Greek family, serves pizza and an eclectic mix of other dishes.
Ashley: I like watching Constantine walking around the restaurant. He’s so sexy, he’s such a stud.
Constantine sets her up in the kitchen making a pizza for them to eat. He tells her that the placement of the pepperoni is crucial. Watch out for charming cheese in the kitchen as it gets gag worthy cutesy. They enjoy their meal at an outdoor table with the staff spying from a window. Another squee when they kiss. Enough of the aw shucks moments, it’s time to meet the family.
Constantine to Ashley: I’m at the point where this clicks for me. Let’s make this happen.
Ashley: Right away you can see so much love in the family. This inspires me; this is what I want for my family.
At the dinner table, Elleni says how much everyone misses Constantine and how they’re going to have to have one big party when he returns – with Ashley or not. Well, they don’t have to wait that long because, after the usual parent conferences, a ring of the doorbell heralds more of this large family coming to call, including Constantine’s adorable God-Daughter. Music breaks out and the Greek dancing begins.
Constantine: This is awesome and Ashley gets to see everything. This is my life, this is what we do.
Ashley: I understand so much more about him now. That is one good man, right there.
A sweet kiss with the family cheering them on and the visit ends.
Under the spreading Magnolia tree
Ames greets Ashley on the beautiful grounds of his family estate in Chadd’s Ford, PA. They hug where green lawns meet split rail fences then stroll to the house to meet his mother, Jane, his brother, Jim with his wife, Tracy and his sister, Serena with her husband, Randy, Along with nieces and nephews, they sit on the patio enjoying drinks and adventure tales before the talks begin.
Jane: Ames looks healthy and happy. Clearly she has caught his attention in a very serious way.
Serena: I’m concerned whether or not Ashley has the same spark that Ames shows.
Ashley to Serena: The truth is that our relationship is moving a lot slower than some of the others, but I see so many good things in him. I’m not ready to stop learning about him, to peel back the layers.
Ashley learns that Ames’ father died when he was ten years old, then his stepfather also died. Serena shares that these events shaped Ames intellectually from art to travel as the men valued both. Serena calls Ames an amazing person and this accolade is reinforced by Jane.
Ashley: I want to feel passion with Ames so bad, but I‘m still missing that romance, that spark.
They leave the family to picnic in Winterthur Garden under a blooming Magnolia tree.
Ames to Ashley: It’s nice when you don’t have to stretch yourself to have a good time. It’s the best when the ordinary is the extraordinary. There is this Italian Renaissance way of being romantic – they call it Spezzatura – where you try to be as romantic as possible, but through your ordinary life. There is so much more magic in the ordinary. Life isn’t all like fireworks.
Aw, Ames, please keep talking and wooing. But, all good things end and, after sharing a kiss, they finish out their date with a high perch carriage ride along the Brandywine River.
Country road take me home
Ashley: Ben is so sexy – his hair, his fashion, his sense of humor. He is so cool.
Ben is happy to surprise Ashley with their activities for the day (a turn around from the planned dates.) They begin with a stroll up a road past grapevines to the winery where he and his partner make their wines. The day is overcast but the California poppies are in bloom along the waysides of springtime in Sonoma, CA. Ben pulls young Bordeaux from a barrel to taste and they clink and kiss.
The cloudy day becomes a drizzly day and they picnic on a porch under cover. They talk about it being a bid deal that she will meet his mother, Barbara who is from the east coast but has lived on the west coast a long time. Ashley will also meet his sister, Julia who lives in San Francisco. She asks about his deceased father and Ben goes reflective calling him a gentle giant, soft spoken and one who was super happy about life. They buried him in Italy/Slovenia on the family farm.
Ben to Ashley: This process has put me in touch with the emotional Ben. It’s like a freedom of expression.
Ashley: I’m most nervous to meet Ben’s family because I know how important this is to him and I really want this to work.
Ben: I couldn’t marry a woman my mom and sister didn’t approve of, so this is a huge deal. They are all that I have. They are my world. If they don’t get along with Ashley, it could be the end for us.
Warm welcoming hugs are followed by a warm dinner. Ashley admits to his sister that it was Ben’s hair that first drew her to him drawing a “told you so” from Julia to Barbara. Julia then tells Ashley that she was the one who signed him up for the show. Ashley thanks her, but Julia goes on to say that she is very protective of her brother. Ben opens up about the experience allowing him to get in touch with his emotional side.
Julia: Ashley seems really sweet, but I am skeptical. I want to protect him and protect our family, and make sure it is actually true feelings.
Ben tells Julia that it is easy with Ashley and he has expressed more to her than probably anyone in the last six years. He says it is scary and exciting and he is really into it. He also tells her that if things keep progressing, he’ll have no problem proposing to Ashley.
Julia: For the first time since our dad died, Ben is in touch with his emotions. I think he really knows what he wants.
Ashley sits with Barbara who brings out Ben’s childhood pictures; pictures showing him with shorter hair.
Ben speaks to his mom of his regrets about not being a better son to her; but now, he has come to terms with it. Barbara reassures him and tells him the past is the past and his dad is probably looking down and thinking: well done.
Ben: My dad is always with me. I miss him. I do.
After an emotional evening of re-connection for Ben, he walks Ashley out to the car and is glad she had a good time. He puts in the sell for Sonoma as a great town before they hug and kiss to the guitar music.
Ben: I’m starting to fall in love and this is more real that it has ever been. I’m very happy today.
Ashley: I could see myself spending the rest of my life with him.
Rink-y dink picnic
Another beautiful spring park at the Swan Club on Long Island– this time with tulips and hyacinths in bloom – is the setting for an all engulfing hug. JP confesses that he didn’t sleep a wink the previous night. Because it was supposed to rain, he planned something silly and fun indoors, something he liked to do as a kid, but he won’t tell her what it is.
Ashley: To be honest, I don’t care what we’re doing today as long as we can be together and walk down the street for three hours; I would be just as happy as doing something extravagant.
They stroll in bright sunlight to Hot Skates, a roller skating rink, which they have all to themselves. (Duh!) The mood lights come on, music starts and both awkwardly take a turn around the floor holding hands.
Ashley: We’re holding hands, the disco ball is turning, and I feel I’m back in 7th grade. I love it.
She flirts, calls him cute in a baby voice and he tells her to be careful when she tries out her skates on the carpet. She can rollerblade and ice skate and thinks she’ll do well. Yes, she stays on her feet while JP takes a bad turn and falls (he says because he didn’t want her to fall first – right.) She calls it a cute fall and lies across him, laughing.
Ashley: I feel so great about my relationship with JP. I just keep thinking how lucky I am to be here with him.
Sitting on a raised, carpeted spool on the skate floor, they picnic and JP welcomes her home – to his home. He tells her it is great to be home, especially since she is there. Ashley learns that she will meet his mother, Ilene, his father, Peter, his brother, Roy and Roy’s girlfriend, Andrea. Ashley is very excited to meet them and JP calls them his world. (Hmm, that phrasing sounds familiar – Ben, anyone?)
JP to Ashley: I think after my last relationship, they may be a little protective of me, but my family is my support system and they saw how hard it was for me.
Ashley to JP: How are you so sure about us when you haven’t been so sure about others?
JP to Ashley: I’m on such a high when I’m with you and when I’m not with you, it’s miserable, it sucks. I don’t want to be without you.
Ashley to JP: Do you have any concerns?
JP to Ashley: At the end of this, someone’s heart is going to get broken, but unless I completely put myself out there and expose my vulnerability and allow myself to get hurt, there’s no way that we could ever work. If I get completely crushed, at least I can walk away saying that I gave that everything I had.
After that serious heart to hopefully not broken heart talk, they travel to Roslyn to meet his family.
Excited hugs greet Ashley at JP’s childhood home. Around a meal of lasagna, Ashley asks Ilene if they were surprised they were coming and Ilene shows her support by saying they were all rooting for JP.
Roy: The fear is there that JP will get hurt again. I guess I was surprised that he has fallen so far so fast.
JP tells the family that he and Ashley are so comfortable together and that it started getting serious between their time in Phuket and Hong Kong.
Ilene is concerned that opening himself up to finding love is not very hard for JP; but being so open can also be open for hurt. JP tells her that there are signs pointing to love, but he has difficulty admitting it yet.
Ilene to JP: Will you propose to her?
JP to Ilene: If I’m feeling it, why not? I’m open to the possibility that I might and I want you guys to be open to it as well.
Ilene expresses to Ashley her fear that JP will go through another heartbreak because he looks at Ashley with love in his eyes. Ashley admits to being smitten with JP and that they have something that is very special to her.
Before they can escape, Ilene drags out an oversized photo with well wishes written on it. It is from his Bar Mitzvah and, with laughter over his mullet; they decide he looks like a cross between Kirk Cameron and Doogie Howser.
JP: Today went absolutely perfectly. When I can finally say, without any hesitation, that I love her, it will feel amazing.
After a final hug and kiss, he watches Ashley’s car drive off with a tender gaze on his face.
BACK AT THE MALIBU MANSION
Ashley gives a glowing review of each of the hometown dates to the Bachfather. He asks if she has any regrets to this point. (Remember, this is the season of NO REGRETS.)
Ashley: Chris, I am proud to say I have no regrets. I’m so happy with these four guys and so happy. I’ll be saying goodbye to “what could have been.”
Order of the Roses
Ames looks shocked, but holds it in. She walks him out and they sit for a moment so she can tell him how hard this was because she cares so much about him.
Ames: You’re an exceptional person and, um, I’ve been so impressed. It’s been totally beautiful and full of the unexpected, and even more poetic than I’d ever imagined. I’ll remember every second of it for the rest of my life.
In the limo he says, “I feel pretty numb at the moment. I’m back to sharing a lifetime of interests with myself, which is less enticing.”
On to Fiji for the Fantasy Dates and the Finale. I spied waterfalls, sea planes, beaches, drama, an unexpected return, a family fight and Ashley saying she fell in love. Whew!
Next week – Fantasy Dates. Then the following Sunday – The Men Tell All. Then the next Monday – The Finale.
Ashley plays server at Giorgios and charms a male customer much to Constantine’s delight…especially when she asks if the customer wants breadsticks. It’s all about the cross-sell, folks.