One of the hardest things about love, in my opinion, is opening yourself up to vulnerability. You cannot fully experience love without a leap of faith, and that leap is one of the most terrifying feelings in the entire world - and one of the most exhilarating, when it pays off. It's especially terrifying if you're a person who, for whatever reason, finds it hard to give your trust to another human being. I have a lot of personal experience with this dilemma, so it's something I really wanted to bring up through the characters in Lullaby.
Ethan's one of those people who has a hard time opening up. He's prickly as hell on the outside, but it's all part of his coping mechanism for dealing with his intense fear of intimacy and vulnerability. From the moment he meets Kate, he spends most of his energy pushing her to let him in, all the while not quite practicing what he preaches. Then, when she takes him up on the invitation, he's shellshocked at the realization that he, too, will have to open up. Their emotional dance is all about seeking and gaining trust and becoming brave enough to take major dives into the unknown.
On a particularly cold, snowy night when I was younger - much, much younger - the boy I loved told me he loved me. I never thought I would hear those words come out of his mouth, and I don't think he quite expected to say them. I'll never forget it, the way he stopped kissing me and rolled over on his side, his back to me, and refused to speak for what seemed like hours and hours. I prodded him. I became petrified that he was breaking up with me. He wasn't. He was trying to find the courage to say these words: "I love you, and I hate the way it makes me feel. It scares the shit out of me." He got up, walked away, and didn't come back for an hour. For sixty minutes, I was frantic, wondering what it meant, crying to my best friend, waiting.
And when he came back, he never looked back again. He had opened the door for me to come in, for us to break each other in half, for the beautiful agony of love.