Chicago's Ed Swiderski broke Jillian Harris's heart -- at least a little -- when he told her on "The Bachelorette" Monday that he had to leave the show to get back to his job.
"I realize I'm letting you down," Ed told a tearful Jillian. "I feel like I would be letting five or six people down if I didn't leave." The technology consultant and professed workaholic had recently taken a new position -- with Microsoft, the Sun-Times has learned.
Jillian was surprisingly unsympathetic, but may just have been hurt. "I'm glad we're figuring this out now," she said. "Promise me something: that when you do find the person you're crazy about, don't let work get in the way."
She had already enticed Ed to stay by giving him a boutonniere rose before the official ceremony. He asked her if he could keep it.
"Leaving today is the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life," said Ed. "I feel frustrated with myself that I've let this happen, and I'm sad to go."
He wasn't available for the usual media interviews afterward; an ABC spokeswoman said via e-mail, "He's busy with work. He has a lot going on. He's just not available."
But his mother, Judith Elliott of Dundee, Mich., says that at least Ed still has his paycheck.
"He had just gotten this job," she said. "He wanted to keep it. I guess maybe he didn't expect to go as far [on the show] as he did.
"He could have chosen her and then not been the one in the end anyway. There's still seven or eight guys left. And besides, how could she know if she really wanted him if he didn't have a job?"
Microsoft had no comment on Ed or his commendable work ethic.
Ed was considered a frontrunner on the show, with online fans comparing his looks to Jeffrey Dean Morgan and "Mike Brady's illegitimate son -- somewhere between Peter and Greg."
He endeared himself to Jillian by confessing that, on the rare occasions he's not working, he gets drunk and sings karaoke with friends at a neighborhood bar.
Ed certainly earned his roses. He and Jillian shared a helicopter ride, had dinner on a rooftop, rappelled down a skyscraper, and even indulged in the Canadian art of curling.
"He started being ready to settle down last year," said his mother, who has been fielding phone calls from friends who want to set up their daughters.
"I'm proud of the way he handled it, and I'm proud of his work," said Elliott. "He took a chance going on there. You've got to go for it. You don't want to regret anything, whatever the outcome. And you learn from the experience."
Will we see Ed back on the show later in the season, perhaps in some love-conquers-all dramatic twist?
ABC doesn't comment on future episodes. And his mom said, "I don't know."