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Ben’s hands are shaking as he comes upon the office door. His entire body is a tremor, and he doesn’t think the Richter scale can measure it he’s shaking so hard. No man has ever felt as much terror as he’s feeling right now, walking up to the second floor office of The Bachelor’s assistant manager with his heart in his hands and his entire ass on the line. He’s scared. He’s so scared. 

Thirty something women have been eliminated from the competition, which is how this show works, but he’s known the reason from the start. It’s the same reason why when he has to choose between the final two in the lineup next week, he knows he won’t be able to. 

That reason had come to him months earlier when he’d been selected as the next Bachelor after jokingly submitting an application to appease his mother with the assistance of his friend Poe, whose husband actually worked for the network producing the show. What had followed was him finding his soulmate much earlier than he was supposed to when he met with the show’s assistant manager, and he’d felt that thing he’d only ever thought to be myth. 

He had seen fireworks just looking at her, and though he isn’t one hundred percent yet whether she feels the same, he knows he has to tell her. He can’t give another woman that rose at the end of the season. He can’t propose to Rose or Kaydel and marry one of them when he can’t stop thinking about Rey. 

There’s no way he could do it without breaking into pieces. He can’t even fake it anymore. He can’t kiss either of them without involuntarily picturing the woman he’s about to see, and that’s why he’s here. That’s why he’s at her door. 

The nerves nearly overwhelm him as he raises his fist to the door, and knocks, praying with everything he has that she loves him, too. He’s not sure he can survive if she doesn’t, but all those looks they exchange, the tiny, unnecessary touches, they have to mean something, don’t they?

Rey answers seconds later, a smile on her face as she opens the door a little wider upon realizing it’s him. Her entire body relaxes a little more, she looks at peace, and her face seems to light up when she sees him. That’s a good sign. That has to mean something. “Ben?” she asks, looking a little confused as she lets him into her office, and shuts the door. “What are you doing here?”

He’s prepared speeches for this, great confessions that rival the most epic romance novels, but they all flee him now that the moment is here. Instead, what comes out is, “I can’t do this anymore,” and shit , that sounds concerning, that sounds way worse than it actually is. 

She shakes her head. “You can’t do what anymore, Ben?” Concern fills her gaze, and he shivers when she rests a hand on his arm. “What’s going on?”

Taking in a deep breath, he places a hand tenderly over hers, relaxing slightly when she doesn’t move away. “I can’t pretend I want to marry Rose or Kaydel anymore,” he confesses, then he closes his eyes, unable to look at her as the truth starts coming out. “I-I’m in love, but not with them… it’s—it’s someone else, and I’ve been too much of a coward to tell her.” His eyes open, because he realizes he wants to watch this, to see the exact moment she hears that it’s her. “To tell you.”

His name falls from her lips, and the hand on his arm twists around to hold his properly, their fingers lacing together as his heart begins to race. “You love me ?” she asks, and her voice is the sweetest, most gentle whisper he’s ever heard. 

“From the minute I saw you, I was gone,” he admits. “I tried to get you out of my head, tried to do the show as normal, but I couldn’t—I can’t anymore. Because you’re the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning and the last thing I think about when I go to sleep at night. There’s no one but you, and there’s never going to be, so please, please tell me you feel something, too, ‘cause I might die a little inside if you don’t.”

His heart is pounding in his chest, harder than ever before as her lips part, and he notices the mist coating her eyes as she nods. “Yeah,” she breathes after what feels like an eternity. “I love you, too.”

“You do?”

Yes . God, it’s been killing me watching you everyday during filming, I started to think I was losing my mind, but… I’m not alone, am I?”

“You’re not,” he promises her, holding her hand close to his heart, wondering if she can feel how hard it’s beating as he watches her blink a tear free from her eyes. He reaches up a hand to wipe it away, leaving his palm resting against her cheek long after the tear is gone. “What are we gonna do?”

“About the show?”

“Yeah.”

“We’ll figure it out later,” she says, then she leans a little bit closer to him, and he can feel her chest start to brush against his. “Right now it doesn’t matter. We’ve been holding back for months now, so would you please stop talking and kiss me?”

Ben laughs, but he nods, saying nothing else as he obeys her command, and leans in, closing the space between them as their lips meet for the first time, and he knows he’s made the right decision. He knows this is fate, this is destiny, and as her hands tangle in his hair, making his head spin, he knows who he’s giving that rose to at the end of the season. 

He knows Rey is getting his diamond ring. 

He knows he’s going to marry her.