On their first date, they were supposed to go out, but ended up spending the whole time in Payne's kitchen, talking about coal mining.
"I knew a side of him the coal mine didn't know," Pauley said. "At the mine, he was so strong-willed and outspoken, but with me, he was the most romantic, the most gentle person."
In 2006, before he met Pauley, Payne lost his fiancee in a motorcycle accident not far from his house. The two had dated for about a decade.
A few months later, he lost his mother to cancer.
"He lost the two women most important in his life," said Payne's sister, Shirley Whitt.
When he started bringing Bobbie Pauley around, Whitt says she played the role of questioning older sister.
"I asked 'how serious is this thing? Are you gonna marry this girl?'" Whitt recalled. "He said he was never going to marry again."
Payne had been married twice and been through two divorces. He told Pauley he wouldn't marry again. As time went on, though, the two started talking about marriage. Pauley said he eventually proposed, and bought her an engagement ring.
'This sounds like a man conversation'
Pauley said she understood from the beginning that being a miner meant being in a man's world and that she would have to adjust to that. There was only one other female miner at Upper Big Branch, she said.
Nationally, women make up just 6 percent of the nation's 88,000 coal miners, according to the National Mining Association. Female miners are far more common at surface mines in the western United States and at some underground operations in Alabama, said Phil Smith, a spokesman for the United Mine Workers union.
There were times when men would say things that made her uncomfortable, Pauley said. "I'd tell them this sounds like a man conversation, and then I'd go somewhere else for a while and come back."
Early on, a co-worker told her he didn't think women should be coal miners.
"Thank you for your unsolicited opinion," she said she told the man, "but I'm here and I'm not leaving."
The man eventually accepted her, she said.
After Pauley and Payne started dating, a young miner made a lewd comment to Bobbie on the way into the mine. When Payne stopped their mantrip, he could tell something was wrong.
Later, the mine's management found out about what was said and suspended the miner. After he argued about his suspension to the mine manager, he was fired.
"I didn't want the boy to be fired," Pauley said.
Payne was not quite as forgiving.
The next time he stopped her mantrip, he made sure everyone knew not to harass Pauley.
"He called out the whole mantrip," she said.
The guys didn't talk to her for a week, but she says she didn't have any problems after that.
'I was hoping you'd say that'
On April 4, Easter Sunday, the couple had a rare day off together. Payne asked Pauley if she wanted to go out to dinner or for a drive.
She asked him if they had to do anything.
"I said 'I just want to spend the day together. Can we just stay home and just spend time together? We never get to spend time together,'" Pauley told him.
"I was hoping you'd say that," he said.
The next morning, Payne left early for work. He never came back.
When the vigil started outside Upper Big Branch, Boone's father, Harold Payne Sr., spent the week with Pauley, Whitt and other family members.
"It was rough," said Payne, who Bobbie and Boone called Cecil. "We were all like a family, all the miners' families up there."
Cecil Payne spent 38 years as an underground coal miner, and he was less than thrilled when his son decided to follow in his footsteps.
"I tried to talk him out of it. He said, 'No.'" Cecil Payne said. "He wanted to work in the mines. So, I got him his first coal-mining job."
After the first day of waiting for word on the post-explosion rescue efforts, Pauley drove back to Boone Payne's house to get a change of clothes and a shower. She found a note he had left when he went to work.
When Pauley read the note, she cried and cried. It wouldn't be until Friday of that week that she found out that the man she loved, along with 28 others, had died in the explosion.
Pauley continued to work for a while in the office at Upper Big Branch, helping track gas monitoring to see if the mine was safe for investigators to enter. Later, she was transferred to a nearby Massey operation, the Parker Peerless Mine. She's had to move back to her own house in Fayette County.
Over the past year, she's started to think of the note almost as a goodbye letter, as Payne's way of showing her how much she meant to him, one last time.
"I want you to know that you are my baby and you are my rock," he wrote in the letter. "And I love you so much and always will."