Cass Wood was left shattered at the cocktail party in tonight's episode of Bachelor In Paradise Australia, when Richie Strahan told her he couldn't see a long-term future with her outside of the series.
Richie, who's a Perth-based FIFO worker, didn't believe he and Cass could make a long-distance relationship work, and he didn't want to lead her on by staying on the show.
Understandably, Cass was confused and saddened by Richie's shock revelation, especially considering they had one of the most loyal connections in Paradise.
"As soon as he came in, there was a bit of chemistry," Cass tells TV WEEK of her relationship with the former Bachelor. "I thought he just had such nice eyes, and I was nervous around him, which was a good sign. We hit it off."
While fans questioned the authenticity of their connection, making a point of the fact they'd never locked lips, Cass confirms there was more to their relationship than we saw.
"Yes, eventually, we did end up kissing!" she says. "It was a good pace for Richie and I. We both wanted to take things slow. I was in no rush."
So where did it all go wrong?
"That day we were finally having all these serious chats about how it would actually work in the outside world, and he was like, 'Oh, you know, we can fly there, we can do this,' and I thought, 'Yes, actually this could work!" reveals Cass.
"Then all of a sudden at the cocktail party, he took me aside and was saying the distance wasn't going to work. I almost laughed because I didn't realise what was going on. I was so confused because an hour before he led me to believe it was going to work."
Cass believes Richie changed his mind immediately after they had "the talk".
"After our serious chat I had to go do an interview, then he had to go do one. But he didn't come back for like an hour – and these are like 10-minute interviews normally. He came back and seemed fine, but then we had to go get ready for the cocktail party and I didn't see him until then. Obviously he had a long, hard think about it and changed his mind."
After leaving Paradise, however, Cass reveals they were quick to clear the air away from the cameras.
"We spoke pretty much straight after getting back to Australia, a couple times, which I think was important for us to do. We just needed to clear the air," she says. "He's a really good person and we're on good terms."
While things didn't work out with Richie, Cass did leave with a full heart thanks to her friendship with Richie's ex-girlfriend Alex Nation.
The pair bonded over the fact they were both labelled "stage-five clingers" on their respective seasons of The Bachelor, with Cass telling TV WEEK Alex first reached out mid-last year to check in on her.
"She sent me a long message saying that she was the 'stage-five clinger' of her season and pretty much sent a whole lot of support, which was so nice. That was all we'd ever exchanged and then I saw her in Paradise and straight away she was so lovely," Cass spills.
And, surprisingly, when it came to Cass' romance with Richie, Alex was completely supportive!
"Obviously Richie and I started spending time together and she was so supportive of that, she gave me advice and she was one of my closest friends in there," Cass admits. "She was never awkward about it."
Now, Cass has long moved on from Richie, telling TV WEEK she is "super excited" for her time on the series to be over, so she can finally go public with her boyfriend Tyson.
"Bloody hell, I don't recommend having a boyfriend and being on a dating show!" Cass says. "I just can't wait to be public.
Cass reveals their relationship took off shortly after she returned home from Paradise.
"We actually met a couple of years ago and started dating for a couple of months but we were both young and we weren't ready for a relationship so we sort of just let it fizzle out," she says of her rugby player boyfriend who lives on the Northern Beaches of Sydney.
"But he's always been around because we have a similar friend group with rugby and, after coming home from Paradise, he came back in to my life and we just hit it off again. Now we're 'officially' dating and I'm super happy!"
Taking to Instagram on Sunday after her final episode aired, Cass uploaded a very special post honouring her new love.
"But the beginning of the rest of my life. Ok... Yes it may seem like Bachelor in Paradise was a little like De Ja Vu for me, but the intensity of both those experiences and any pain I felt is all worth it since having this guy walk back in to my life at the most perfect time. And yes I say "back" into my life, as we met back in 2017 😱 I can gladly say I'm the happiest I've ever been. And I'm so grateful for all of you for being so supportive and protective of me. My heart is so full ❤️
"And Oi guys guess what... the "dream journal" was right, I wanted to meet my soul mate when I was 23... and guess what I met him at 23 😂😂😈😈[sic]"
We're so happy for you, Cass!
Bachelor in Paradise airs Tuesday to Thursday, 8.40pm, on 10.
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