The Inn at Oak Creek

The Inn at Oak Creek

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by Linda Barrett

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Molly Porter was on her way to the Olympics, a member of the women's downhill ski team. A horrific accident left her, after years of recovery, alive and well, but carrying a lot of scars—not all of them visible. Because Molly can no longer have children.

Throwing her energies into her new career as a hotel manager at the Bluebonnet Inn, Molly is finally

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Molly Porter was on her way to the Olympics, a member of the women's downhill ski team. A horrific accident left her, after years of recovery, alive and well, but carrying a lot of scars—not all of them visible. Because Molly can no longer have children.

Throwing her energies into her new career as a hotel manager at the Bluebonnet Inn, Molly is finally satisfied with her life. Until she meets Sam Kincaid, the new owner. He's handsome, he's smart and it looks as if their professional relationship is blossoming into something more. But Sam has very clearly expressed his desire for children—children Molly could never give him. She has to tell him, but if she does, will her world come crashing down…again?

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The Inn at Oak Creek

By Linda Barrett

Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.

Copyright © 2003 Linda Barrett
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0373711158

Chapter One


On her skis at the three-thousand-foot mark, Molly Porter paused beyond the lift station, pushed her goggles to her forehead and scanned the horizon in her usual deliberate manner. First to the left, then to the right, her eyes absorbed what Mother Nature had provided. A smile tugged at Molly's mouth. Beauty. Today she was surrounded by beauty.

Snow-covered mountains glistened in the bright winter sun. Virgin snow mostly, pristine white blankets barely marred by skiers' tracks. Overhead in the never-ending sky, small, fluffy clouds were scattered across the field of blue. Molly blinked back incipient tears. No artist could reproduce this panorama that so touched her soul.

She sighed with pleasure as she snapped a mental picture of the view, then tucked the memory away and shifted her attention to the challenge ahead. No, not this slope. The run down this mountainside would be for sheer pleasure, a time-out to mentally prepare herself to win the gold. Olympic gold. For her country, for her family, for herself.

She dug her poles into the hard-packed snow, shifted her weight and started her run, dreaming of what the medal would mean to Diamond Ridge, her family's ski resort in Vermont. Mom and Dad would burst with pride, but her sister and brother-in-law would couple their cheers with an advertising campaign to grow the business yet again.

At the base of the mountain Molly checked her watch and quickly caught up with the rest of her teammates. Respect, affection and loyalty had already bonded them into a unit. An American unit, seeking a medal sweep for the United States. They were competitors, every last one of them. They were athletes, healthy and strong, both physically and mentally.

She grinned at her friend Julie, who jabbed repeatedly at her watch. "Sorry," said Molly. "I needed my own space for a minute."

"Find your own space later," Julie replied. "Now get ready for a timed run." Julie inclined her head toward the rest of the group as they made their way to the lifts.

"Not to worry, Jules," said Molly. "I am ready. I've been ready for twenty-two years, my whole life. Centered and focused. Even have my number on." Molly pointed at her vest, where the number six stood a foot and a half tall.

"Jeez, I don't know why I worry about you," Julie grumbled. "You've already posted the fastest time during our trial runs so far. And you're always in total control."

"Is that a polite way of saying I'm a control freak?" Molly laughed, unconcerned about the answer. Control was the name of the game when the game was played at seventy miles an hour or more.

"Nah," said Julie. "Maybe I wish I had a little extra."

Molly glanced at her friend and squeezed her shoulder. "There's nothing wrong with you or your skiing. In fact, I've never seen you in better form."

A moment passed before Julie answered. "Thanks, Molly. Coming from you, it means a great deal."

Coming from her? Molly shrugged. She wasn't the captain of the Olympic team as she'd been of her high-school team. And Julie had only known her since they'd met at the nationals two years ago. But Molly was used to leadership, of taking the initiative. If she could inject a fraction more confidence in the other girl, so much the better for everyone.

"Our turn," Molly said, slipping onto the chairlift and leaving room for Julie. "Look," she said seconds later, pointing at some men with video equipment riding the big cats partway up the hill. "Seems like we're being filmed today."

"Does it bother you?" asked Julie.

"Of course not," Molly replied, a little surprised at the question. "I'm so focused on my skiing I don't even notice. And besides," she added with a grin, "I like to study myself later. If I can increase my speed even a fraction of a second by doing something a little differently, I'll do it."

"I know, Molly," Julie said. "We all know."

Then Julie grinned. "And we all do the same thing."

Molly returned her friend's smile. Skiing at top form was their job. It was definitely her goal. She was at one with the mountain, in Vermont, in Colorado or here in Lake Placid, New York, at the Olympic Training Center. In every season of the year she ran to the mountains - climbing, hiking or skiing. During every school break from college during the past two years, she would first visit her family and then head to the sky-high summits. She craved that time, that space. Her older sister, Amanda, understood it best because she'd run to the mountains, too, years ago, when she'd needed solitude.

Now Molly slid from the chair, skied into the start house and waited for her turn, after Julie. She spoke to no one. Instead, she stood near the entrance, goggles in place, and studied the terrain. Little by little, the people and noise around her faded until she was in her own world, concentrating only on the mountain, on what she was born to do.

"Porter, get ready."

Molly nodded, stepped to the start gate and leaned forward into position.

"Ready ... set ... go!"

She shot down the slope, legs pumping, skis gliding, picking up speed with every stroke against the snow. The wind whipped her cheeks as she banked into each turn, pushing and pushing, hoping her skill, along with gravity, would take a second or more off her time.

She hit sixty miles an hour, sixty-five, then seventy by the halfway point. She was on! Might even establish a new personal best. Shifting her weight, she took a turn, then headed straight downhill again.

Faster, faster and into another turn. What the ...? Ice. Hidden ice. Her skis chattered and slid. Applying pressure to catch an edge, Molly leaned over hard. And then everything happened at once.

Her skis slipped out from under her, catapulting her into a backward somersault. Her shoulder slammed into the slope, the skis now above her head. Ice tore at her cheek as she continued to slide down the mountain. Roll with it! Roll with it! She twisted to get control. Too fast. She was spinning too fast. Head over heels, she pinwheeled. Her legs tangled. One ski off, one ski still on. She couldn't breathe. Over and over, cartwheeling, banging her head against the hard-packed snow. Her vision dimmed, blackened. Inhale! Blinking as she hurtled down the hill like an out-of-control missile, she glimpsed the orange safety fence looming in front of her, a virtual brick wall.

Good-bye, family. I love you.


Excerpted from The Inn at Oak Creek by Linda Barrett Copyright © 2003 by Linda Barrett
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Inn at Oak Creek 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Molly Porter. Olympic downhill skier. On top of the world until a tragic accident brings her toppling down. Sam Kincaid. Dot-com entrepreneur. Surfing high on the technology revolution until the wave of online failures brings his companies crashing down. It will take a miracle to bring these two scarred people together¿heal them, make them whole. But if anyone can deliver a book full of miracles, it¿s Linda Barrett. When a near-fatal accident ends Molly¿s skiing career, she picks herself up again, obtains a degree in hotel management, and starts a new life as assistant manager at the Bluebonnet Hotel in the Texas town of Oak Creek. But when the Bluebonnet¿s owner dies of a sudden heart attack and his nephew arrives with plans to sell, Molly¿s life is again thrown into turmoil. Sam Kincaid can¿t seem to catch a break. His companies are bankrupt, his girlfriend has moved out, leaving him with a message that she¿s relocating to France, is pregnant with his child, and plans to take care of the problem. Sick at heart, Sam just wants to rebuild his life and his high tech career, but his plans are interrupted when his uncle dies and leaves the Bluebonnet to Sam. It¿s at the Bluebonnet that Sam meets Molly. Seeing her disability, he wants to protect her. She¿s obviously competent at her job, but Sam fears she works too hard. Molly does not appreciate what she views as Sam¿s pity. Sparks fly as these two struggle to run the Bluebonnet together. Over time, Sam and Molly acknowledge their growing attraction, but it seems for every obstacle they overcome, another arises. Molly is upset by Sam¿s plans to turn the Bluebonnet into another hotel/technology training center, and Sam is shaken when he learns Molly cannot have children. It will take a miracle and then some for Molly and Sam to overcome these obstacles, but Linda Barrett kept me turning pages, desperate to know how Sam and Molly would deal with each new setback. The Inn at Oak Creek is Linda Barrett¿s fourth novel and her best. She begins the book with a whoosh, and the pace never slows. The characters are real and engaging, the plot is vibrant, and the writing superb. Readers who enjoyed Linda¿s first novel, Love, Money, and Amanda Shaw, will delight in catching up with Amanda and Zach, Molly¿s sister and brother-in-law, in this book. If you¿re looking for a great read, all the amenities included, check into The Inn at Oak Creek.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Molly Porter had been headed for the Olympics, a member of the women's downhill ski team. Then the unthinkable happened, an accident that took years to recover from. Molly lived; however, her Olympic dream was forever shattered and she carried several scars. ...... With help and support from her loved ones, Molly threw herself into a new career. She left Vermont for Texas and became the hotel manager at the Bluebonnet Inn. She was finally satisfied with her life until a new owner, Sam Kincaid, appeared. ..... Sam was able to look past Molly's scars and see the lovely woman she really was, inside and out. Their professional relationship began to bloom into more. There was one major problem though. Sam had clearly stated how much he wanted to have children. Molly would have to somehow tell him that the accident left her unable to do so. Would her life come crashing down all over again? ......... **** Author Linda Barrett's pen expresses her characters' so well, readers can not help but actually feel the emotions leap off the pages and into their hearts! This book is a wonderful, realistic, feel good romance that I am happy to recommend! ****
harstan More than 1 year ago
Molly Porter was a strong bet to making the American Olympics downhill ski team until she suffered a terrible career ending accident. Following years of healing Molly reinvents herself as the hotel manager of the Bluebonnet Inn. Though regretting that she never participated on the Olympic stage and that she cannot have children (a side effect of the injury), Molly feels pretty good that her life has come together for the first time since the accident. Sam Kincaid is the new owner of the inn and he wants to sell it so he can stake his return to the finance world. While Sam and Molly disagree over the future of the inn, they fall in love. However, he fears commitment to someone who fails to share his dreams while she believes he deserves a wife who can give him the children he professes that he wants one day. This engaging contemporary romance avoids the soap opera clichés through two wonderful lead protagonists. Sam and Molly grip the audience, as readers want both to obtain their desires, but together, though on the surface that seems illogical and impossible. THE INN AT OAK CREEK is a fine love tale that focuses on the catalyst of love enabling new aspirations to replace shattered hopes. Harriet Klausner