Chris Hurst said he can't remember exactly when he first met Alison Parker — the ambitious young journalist had been a fixture at his television station for several years.
While Parker would tell a story about going with him one day to court as an intern to learn how to look for search warrants — "she loved the nitty-gritty part of being a reporter" — a different first memory stands out to the Virginia-based anchor.
It was at the work Christmas party, he said, when something came over him.
"Some voice came inside my head and said, 'Chris, if you don't ask her out, you don't make a move you are going to regret it for the rest of your life,'" he told NBC News.
They struck up a conversation, went on their first date on New Year's Day and "it's been magical ever since," according to Hurst.
"We fell hard for each other," he added. "We found our soulmates."
On Wednesday, Hurst kissed Parker, 24, goodbye as she went off to work the morning shift.
She and photographer Adam Ward were fatally shot during an on-air interview in Moneta, Virginia, only hours later. The gunman — former colleague Vester Lee Flanagan — died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Hurst and Parker had big plans for a life together — and recently moved in to their own apartment.
"She made me smile like no one else in this world has ever made me smile"
"It is the happiest place I have ever lived and she made me happier than I have ever been," he said from outside their home.
While it might have seemed "foolish" to move in together after only 8 months as a couple, Hurst said they wanted to save money to buy a house and start an "adult life together."
"It was a great month," he said. "Now I'm alone again."
Hurst told NBC News that the reality of the tragedy "is not hitting" yet — but that he is determined to make sure the lives Parker and Ward lived are remembered.
His girlfriend was determined to produce "journalism that mattered ... that made people stand up and take notice," Hurst said.
"She had a lot of life to live and she was nowhere near done living that life," Hurst said. "She had huge dreams and ambitions."
A recent special on child abuse had been a particular moment of pride, Hurst recalled.
"She did such a marvelous job with it and she was getting ready to do more stories like that," he added.
Like many of the couple's colleagues, Hurst described their Virginia TV station — WDBJ7 — as a "family." Ward too had found love in the workplace; he was engaged to a producer at the network.
Hurst said both his and Ward's were "successful love stories" — but cut short.
He and Parker would celebrate "month-a-versaries" because they hadn't been together long enough to mark a full anniversary. For their sixth month, Parker gave him a photo scrapbook.
"The cutest, newsiest, prettiest couple EVER" is written on one page; the rest are smiling pictures of six months of fun, from weddings to charity softball matches.
"She made me smile like no one else in this world has ever made me smile and I don't think will ever be able to make me smile," Hurst said, adding that Parker had asked him to fill the rest of the album with photos from their next six months together.
The anchor said he is taking strength from knowing he was "loved supremely" by his girlfriend and from knowing he was good to her.
"If you are fortunate and work hard enough to be able to get a relationship like the one we had, if only for 9 months, then you have something to be proud of," he said. "That's what gives you strength right now, the day you find out that she is murdered."