This post contains spoilers from Tuesday's season finale of The Bachelorette.
After a season of twists and turns, including a leading lady switcheroo, this week's Bachelorette finale picked up with one contestant's return with a confession of love for Tayshia Adams.
"I should've just told you what I was thinking," Ben said to Tayshia of how he felt during hometowns. "But I'm in love with you. You make me feel unlike anything I've ever felt in my entire life."
When asked by Tayshia why he held back initially, Ben admitted, "I was scared. I've never felt that way. It's been such an intense thing and I think part of it is like, I was so confident that I would get a rose, that I would progress to the next week and I would have a perfect opportunity to tell you how I felt."
"I just wish I would've heard it sooner because I was almost there," Tayshia replied. But she also confessed she "absolutely" missed Ben during his brief absence and invited him to attend the rose ceremony. Then she walked him out of her room, and before the military vet departed, Tayshia pulled him in for a kiss.
"Why would I kiss him? Why would I do that?" Tayshia asked herself in an on-camera interview.
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Ahead of the season's final rose ceremony, Ivan felt ready to propose to Tayshia soon. Before she began doling out any roses, though, Tayshia pulled Ivan aside to talk.
"There are some things that kind of posed concern," she told him. "I wish I can say that there were a lot red flags prior to this week and there haven't been. It's just at the end of the day, religion is part of my morals and my beliefs."
Ivan graciously understood. "I definitely get it," he began. "We found out a lot of stuff about each other and I was definitely struggling with bringing it up, because all the girls I have dated in the past, it never ended because of religion or anything. But I know that's something that's important to you and I do apologize for that and I wish I did bring it up a little sooner. That is the roadblock for the two of us."
Ivan and Tayshia said their goodbyes, and he admitted to the cameras that he had suspected their differing beliefs could come between them. "I knew in the back of my mind — I was like, this thing could really just be the bomb that just explodes everything here," he said. "And it just happened."
He also felt Tayshia had let go of her best option for a husband. "I think me and her made the most sense," the aeronautical engineer said. "It's going to be tough on her. She's not going to pick anybody, I don't think."
But Tayshia proceeded to offer roses to Zac and Ben and told the two men they'd soon be meeting her family.
BEN MEETS THE FAMILY
Tayshia first introduced her parents and siblings to Ben. Her dad Desmond said he liked Ben's background as a West Point grad. "That shows that he has some drive,” Desmond said.
Meanwhile, Ben gushed about Tayshia to her mom Rosario and assured her he saw their relationship as a "forever thing." "She's the woman that I could imagine having children with," Ben said.
The Bodybuilding Club co-foundera also explained to Desmond why initially held back on sharing his feelings with Tayshia — and her dad accepted his reasoning. "I fell in love with your daughter several weeks ago," Ben said. "I was so terrified to share that with her because I didn't know that it would be reciprocated."
Desmond told Ben, "I really appreciate you being genuine, being open, being honest. That says a lot to me."
To the cameras, he spoke a little more candidly. "I probably went from being doubtful of the guy to where I would give him a chance," Desmond said.
Spending the day with her family and Ben seemed to spark something in Tayshia. "I started to fall in love with Ben all over again," she said in an on-camera interview.
ZAC MEETS THE FAMILY
Zac called his meeting with Tayshia's family the "most important day of my life." He began up by telling them that he and Tayshia had "built a nice connection." "I just feel really lucky," Zac added.
The addiction recovery specialist told Tayshia's mom when they spoke one-on-one that his love for the Bachelorette "gets stronger every time I see her."
"I see us married. I see us happy and I see us still madly in love with each other and falling more in love with each other each and every day," Zac said of where he sees his relationship with Tayshia in five years. "And I see us starting a family."
Tayshia's dad worried she could end up divorced a second time if Zac proposed and things didn't work out. "I'm not going to do that unless I am so sure, which I am right now, sitting here in this moment, that it's the right thing to do," Zac assured him. "Because I am committed to what that means on the backend."
That impressed Desmond. "I like Zac," he told the cameras. "He's a good man. Just to see another man love my daughter the way that he expressed himself made me be at ease. I'm looking forward to see what may come about."
Zac and the Adams family ended their day together by eating pizza. But later, Desmond wanted more time with his daughter, so he paid her a private visit.
"I haven't been able to stop thinking about our family time with Ben and Zac," Desmond told Tayshia. "We basically don't want you to make a mistake here. I like Zac and Ben's a good guy, but frankly, I'm worried. Because you know I've seen you hurt before. And I can't let that happen this time. I've seen you, you've learned from every step since that day of your divorce. And what I want to make sure is we can do whatever we can to not go down that path again."
Tayshia recognized his concerns and recalled crying to her dad in her car in the middle of the night after her divorce years ago. "He knows that pain that I felt at one point," she said.
FINAL ONE-ON-ONE DATES
Tayshia had one more chance to go on a date with each of her remaining guys before proposal day. But, "after talking to my dad, I can't decide if I want to get married again," she told the cameras.
Zac, however, felt "very ready" to pop the question.
For their last date, Zac and Tayshia took a dance lesson and learned a traditional wedding dance. "Being on this dance floor with Tayshia, our chemistry and our love is stronger than ever," Zac said. "We're in unison."
Tayshia felt the same way. "It kind of bothers me I can't find any flaws in him," she said in an on-camera interview.
Later on, Tayshia expressed to Zac her fears of someone walking away if and when difficulties arose in their relationship. Zac, celebrating nine years sober, assured Tayshia that the task of getting clean showed him he could overcome tough challenges.
"It allows me to not run away, not run, and actually face life as it comes my way," Zac said to Tayshia. "To hear you say your fear is that things will change and that I'll run breaks my heart, because if I were given the opportunity to propose to you, I'm not doing that unless I'm committing to you."
With her concerns at ease, Tayshia proposed a toast to Zac, calling him "the best man I could ever dream of."
"I'm ready for whatever the future holds, and I'm here for you," Zac told Tayshia.
"I love Zac Clark," she gushed to the cameras. "There's so much sincerity behind everything that Zac says."
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Because she felt so certain about Zac, Tayshia couldn't go through with her final date with Ben. "I'm feeling very, very nervous," she admitted in an on-camera interview. "It's only because at this point I feel like I know what my heart wants, and I know that it's not Ben."
So she knocked on his door to deliver the news.
"It's a really heavy week and I care about you so much. And I just feel like my heart is with somebody else," Tayshia told Ben. "I don't want you to ever second-guess anything and me giving you that rose the other night was because I truly, truly wanted to give us another chance because I saw something. I just feel like we missed out on a little bit of time that was very monumental."
Ben handled this breakup better than his first one with Tayshia. "I saw it going differently, but when you love somebody, you want them to be happy," he told her before they parted ways.
"I can wholeheartedly say that Zac is my person," Tayshia declared on engagement day.
Zac met with jeweler Neil Lane and picked out an emerald cut engagement ring. Then he arrived to give it to Tayshia.
"From our first kiss to riding the Ferris wheel to meeting each other's families, nothing has ever felt so right my entire life," Zac told Tayshia. "You've helped me experience the love that I didn't know existed and you've made me smile more than anyone has ever made me smile. I love you, Tayshia."
Tayshia returned the sentiment. "There was one point in my life where I thought I would never get married because of all of the pain and the heartbreak that I've been through," she said. "I hit absolute rock bottom and I know that I told you that I love you but, sorry, it's more than that. It's this wild, wild love that I have tried to come up with so many reasons to not believe, and you have truly just made me believe that there doesn't need to be flaws and that I deserve a love with a man that won't run away."
"I'm truly looking at my heart and yes, it is real," she continued. And I want to make more traditions and jump into fountains all over the world with you. I'm ready to hail a taxi. And I'm ready to start a life with you. But also, I love you, Zac Clark, and I'll do absolutely anything to keep that huge smile on your face, because you do everything to keep a huge smile on mine."
After telling Tayshia, "I'm going to choose you forever," Zac dropped down on one knee and presented the ring box. "Marry me?" he asked.
Tayshia accepted the proposal, kissed Zac and told him, "You're mine."
Tayshia also gave Zac her final rose and the newly-engaged couple celebrated with a dance and champagne. As for what's next for the two of them, Zac joked that they would "make beautiful babies and all that stuff."
Then they hopped in a makeshift yellow cab and rode (well, walked) off to their future together.
Franchise fans won't have long to wait for their next fix: Matt James' season of The Bachelor premieres Jan. 4 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
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