"Bachelorette" recap: "I love you" comes too late

"The Bachelorette" star Desiree Hartsock. ABC

Desiree Hartsock harbored some marriage-worthy feelings for one of her three remaining suitors in Monday's "Bachelorette" episode, but her failure to reveal the true contents of her heart appear to have cost this singleton a happily ever after with the love of her life.

Part one of season nine's devastating two-part finale began with romantic, sun-soaked one-on-ones in the Caribbean with Des' remaining guys, Chris Siegfried and Drew Kenney. Though the dates teased promise of an accepted "I do," it turns out the 27-year-old bridal stylist had only one person on her mind that could do the job, Brooks Forester, and he was about break her dream into a million pieces.

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Harboring doubts about whether or not he could propose, Brooks booked a last-minute trip to Boise, Idaho to consult with his sisters. Finding little solace there, the 28-year-old jumped on a jet to Antigua to ultimately work out his doubts with Des. Before that, Brooks sat down with host Chris Harrison for a surprising heart-to-heart where he came to the conclusion he wasn't quite ready to settle down with Desiree when it all came down to it.

Expecting a carefree date, Des was visibly surprised when pulled aside to hear Brooks' unsettling news. Fumbling for the right words to say, he tried to convey, in as nice a way as he could, that he would likely never feel as strongly for her as she deserved.

"I really want to be madly in love with you," Brooks said to a devastated Des. "I don't feel like the moments apart are hard enough."

Sensing a breakup, Des burst into tears and, at long last, dropped the L-word to an astonished Brooks, who wasn't previously convinced of her strong feeling for him.

Related: Former "Bachelorette" reveals prediction for Des

"I don't care that you just broke my heart," she said. "I love you."

After many, many "sorries," the pair eventually parted ways, leaving Brooks to proclaim their split on the beach as "the worst day of my life," and "way worse than I thought it was going to be."

In a sneak peek of next week's finale, airing in front of a live studio audience, Desiree contemplates leaving the show now that Brooks is no longer in the running.

"I just can't love them as much as they deserve," she says of her remaining suitors through tears. "Honestly for me, it's over."

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