The most dramatic season yet? Clayton Echard‘s Bachelor journey came to a shocking end on Tuesday, March 15, and even former ABC stars couldn’t see the twists coming.
The Missouri native, 28, ended his relationships with both Gabby Windey and Rachel Recchia during Tuesday’s episode after previously begging them both to stay and introducing the two finalists to his parents. However, he confessed that his heart was still with Susie Evans, who was sent home after an argument during the fantasy suite week.
Following the women’s explosive exits, Clayton penned a letter to Susie in an attempt to win her back. “I am incredibly sorry for hurting you and not being the man you thought I was, especially in the moment where you needed me the most. But if you give me the chance, I will fight for your love day in and day out to prove to you that I can be that man, because without you I am nothing and with you I have everything,” he wrote. “I want to respect the time that you need to take to figure out a decision, but if you’d be willing to meet me, I’d be patiently waiting for you in the countryside.”
The videographer appeared at the final rose ceremony, but she ultimately turned Clayton down, leaving him alone in Iceland. During the live portion of Tuesday’s finale, the twosome revealed that they had reconnected post-show.
“I always had love for Clayton. I always had love in my heart,” Susie told host Jesse Palmer. “I loved him as a person before he ever fell in love with him. … He’s incredible and we all make mistakes and we both made mistakes on this journey but we both have so much love for each other.”
Despite all the ups and downs, the former football player asserted that the journey was “one thousand percent” worth it. “She just impresses me more and more every day,” he gushed of his girlfriend. “And she continues to give me reason after reason why following my heart was the best decision I could have ever made, and I could not be more in love with this woman.”
The reality stars said they weren’t ready to rush into an engagement, but they are planning to move in together in Susie’s home state of Virginia. Before confirming his relationship status, however, Clayton was forced to face his exes.
“Watching it back, everything is so muddled, and you are clearly pitting us against each other,” Gabby, 31, told the Bachelorette alum on stage. “It really seems like a competition, which I had expressed to you that I didn’t want to be a part of.”
The 26-year-old pilot, for her part, called out the lead’s “disrespect” for dumping both women at once. “It was almost as if you cast us aside as quickly as you could to [get to] the person you loved the most,” Rachel claimed before asking Clayton, “Did you tell me that you were in love with me because you wanted to sleep with me?”
In yet another shocking twist, the runners-up were later crowned joint Bachelorettes for the upcoming 19th season. “I am so happy for her. I truly am!” Rachel raved. “It’s crazy. This is insane and I’m excited to do this journey with you. We did it once together. We’ve been through the most crazy experience together.”
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Scroll down to see how Bachelor Nation reacted to the end of Clayton’s “historic” season: