Serene Russell was sent home after hometown dates on the Feb. 28 episode of The Bachelor. Clayton Echard met Serene’s family, along with the families of Gabby Windey, Rachel Recchia and Susie Evans. However, at the subsequent rose ceremony, he had to let one woman go, and Serene was the one who didn’t get a rose.
For their hometown date, Serene took Clayton home to Oklahoma City. Before meeting the family, they completed an obstacle course and jump together. “With every interaction with Serene, our relationship grows stronger and stronger it took another step today,” Clayton gushed. “We continue to be by each other’s side and push each other to be better and to rise above our fears. I don’t wanna be someone who steps away when it gets tough or scary. I wanna be someone who steps into those moments and makes the most of them.”
After the daytime portion of the date, Serene was even more certain that she was falling in love with Clayton, which she had already opened up to him about on a previous date. “I feel like conquering that together and seeing how you handled it, it’s just more of a testament of how I am falling in love with you,” Serene told Clayton. “I’m excited for you to meet my family now.”
Clayton met Serene’s mom, brother, Roland, and best friend. Going into the night, she knew that her brother might be hard on Clayton. “My brother’s normally like, ‘I’m cool, I don’t really care,’ but he really cares deep down,” she explained. “So if it happens, it’ll happen with a conversation between he and Clayton.”
Roland was impressed when he heard that Serene had opened up to Clayton about the recent deaths of her grandmother and cousin. “That’s an open wound for her, so that lets me know that she sees something special in you, so please be really careful,” Roland warned. “That’s really fragile.”
Both Roland and Serene’s mother warned her to be “careful” with how fast everything was moving. “I don’t want you to get hurt,” Roland said, through tears. “I’ve seen you hurt in a lot of ways. I’ve been on the phone with you crying until three in the morning. I don’t want you to feel that anymore.”
By the end of the night, though, Serene was more sure about her feelings than ever, and she became the first woman of the remaining four to tell Clayton that she’s “in love” with him. “I don’t want to freak you out at all, but I can say after today that I’m not falling in love with you — I’m in love with you,” she revealed. “Seeing you with my family really solidified that for me. I don’t think it could’ve gone any better at all.”
Going into the rose ceremony, Clayton was devastated that he was going to have to break someone’s heart after connecting with their family. “I was afraid to allow myself to open up because it wasn’t making sense in my head how I was feeling about four women,” Clayton admitted. “But what I know is that I have very strong feelings. I’m falling in love with all the women in a different capacity.”
However, Clayton had stronger connections with Gabby, Rachel and Susie than he did with Serene. “I know that this is going to be a lot but I just wanted to say I’m sorry,” Clayton told Serene. “It wasn’ something you said that changed it. It just came down to I had to look back and reflect and say, ‘Where do I stand with my heart?’ and I just have stronger connections.” Serene fought back tears as she left.