NASCAR

Three bachelors vie for one woman

Emily Maynard of Season 8 of the ABC franchise The Bachelorette
Emily Maynard will face tough decisions tonight.
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"The Bachelorette" is down to three men, including racer Arie Luyendyk Jr.

In Monday night's episode, Arie, Sean and Jef continue their quest to win over Emily, who was engaged to the late NASCAR driver Ricky Hendrick.

What's happening? We've got it covered.

Date night with Sean

With the group in Curacao, Sean is the first to go on his date. He and Emily take off in a helicopter, taking in the views of what Sean deems paradise. As footage of the flight rolls, Sean explains to the camera in a separate interview that he is ready to reveal his feelings to Emily. Sitting on their private beach, they discuss the previous week’s family visit. While the interviews off camera interspersed with the beach shots feature each discussing how they hope the evening ends with Sean expressing his love, the conversation has yet to head in that direction as the two spend some time snorkeling.

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Sports is the ultimate "unscripted TV." No wonder so many athletes, such as Jose Canseco), have appeared on reality shows.

Later, as they sit around a fire on the beach, the pair get earnest about discussing their feelings. Emily has bluntly mentioned to Sean that she sometimes has trouble reading him. He surprises her by reading to Emily a letter that he has written to her daughter, Ricki, who is also the daughter of the late Ricky Hendrick, who was killed in a 2004 plane crash. Sean gets emotional reading the letter, as does Emily.

Sean tells Emily, “I can’t stop thinking about you, and I can’t picture my life without you.” As Emily smiles happily, he tells her, “I have fallen in love with you.” Emily responds that it makes her “so, so happy” to hear that.

Emily and Sean are given the option of spending more time together into the night. Sean says he would love the chance to stay up all night and talk. Emily seems briefly torn on whether to stay with him and talk or to follow her gut and believe that she will make the right call without spending that extra time together. Emily decides that she must remain true to what she feels is right as a mother and with her personal beliefs, and opts for a solo night on the island.

Date with Jef

Jef and Emily definitely have less of a light tone to the opening of their date. As they sail off the coast of Curacao, Jef tells Emily that he would like for her to meet his parents if things work out, as they were not present for the family visit. With a smile, Emily points out that she is a parent and Jef turns serious, asking her if she feels that he would make a good parent and pursuing that topic a little further. He tells the camera that he feels different with Emily than he’s felt with any girl. As the sun sets on the boat, he is seen telling the camera that for the two of them, a whole life is just starting.

Later, as they sit down for a candlelight dinner, Jef begins to ask his own questions. Where does she think they would live should they end up together. She says that she would like a new start, just the three of them, and Jef agrees. Why have her past relationships not worked out? She admits that she has dated some amazing people, but that it will not happen without that special spark — the word he fills in — and she tells him that he ignites a self-confidence in her. And she says that is what makes them different, then turns the question around on him. He says she is the first person with whom he can see an “amazing, picture-perfect ending.”

Then comes his final probing question: Does she think he is a good fit for Ricki in terms of being a dad. Emily says that she has been thinking about that all along. She says that when she went home to Charlotte to be with Ricki in the middle of all this, she was trying to picture someone there with them, and that he was the person she envisioned.

She hands him the same letter that allows them to share a suite. Jef says that he thinks it would be awesome, but that he completely understands and respects that her daughter and their families would be watching and there is a time and place for everything. Emily tells him she knew he would be a gentleman about it and that she cannot stay the night, but that they can hang out for a little while. In a later interview, she seems both pleased and a little disconcerted that he essentially gave the speech she had planned.

Date with Arie

Emily seems more eager to see Arie, then they head off for their afternoon adventure — swimming with the dolphins in the open ocean. Emily later comments about how protective Arie is of her, and he talks about how easy it is to be with her as they float with the dolphins. Arie says that he feels like she saves “the good dates” for him.

They share some intimate moments before sitting down for dinner. Emily tells the camera that she is trying to figure out if there is more than chemistry between them. She asks Arie about his day-to-day life, and he tells her that he wants to see her do the simple things like cooking and taking care of Ricki. She asks him what time he gets up, and he says about 9. He laughs that he knows she gets up around 6:30 and she just raises her eyebrows and points out that she wishes. She asks how long his workday is, and he says he generally gets home around 6.

He then asks her questions, like where does she picture them and if he is the one, how does she see it work out in terms of visiting one another and where they live. She says that she would be happy to move to his home area of Scottsdale, Ariz., if that is where he wanted to live, if she knew they were going to spend their lives together, and if it was best for Ricki. Arie tells the camera that when he’s with her, he feels like they are the only two people in the world, but he also is embracing the idea of having a role with Ricki.

What does she look for in a father?  At the end of the day, Emily says, what she is looking for is someone who loves Ricki so much that there's no difference in being the dad or a stepdad. He says that he thinks it is a slow progression and that the relationship would be built so slowly and not rushed. She tells the camera that he gets how to gain a child’s trust more than she gave him credit for.

He essentially tells her that she makes him feel like a man. Emily doesn’t even offer Arie the key to the overnight suite that she has used to spend time talking with the other two, because she says she doesn’t trust herself. She then gets emotional, telling the camera that it makes her sad to have to choose one of the men because all of them have a place in her heart.

The decision

As she sits down with host Chris Harrison, Emily discusses the difficulty of her pending decision. She says that she has followed her heart all along and that she can look back at all her choices and know that she’s done the right thing — and that she hopes she can say the same after this.

Harrison points out that this is the last rose ceremony before the final decision. She watches a video from each of the men after tearily saying that she’s trying to keep the men’s feelings in mind and that it makes it really difficult, as she has three great guys.

Emily says she doesn’t think any of the men expect to be the one sent home.

At the ceremony to hand out the roses, Emily says that she could picture each of the men in her life at the end and that she does care about each of them and that she’s sorry. She pauses holding the first rose — then gives it to Jef. Arie and Sean look suddenly nervous as she picks up the final rose. She softly says Arie’s name, as Sean stands quietly watching.

Sean then says, as Emily suspected, that he didn’t see this coming and that she should know it’s going to hurt him before he heads home.

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