Yes! You can do this. To make things easier, I'd actually reserve a small partition for a minimalist linux distribution. Then install linux last.
Why? Because linux grew up in an environment where it's much less likely to be the only operating system available, and as a result it has much nicer boot loader options. You'll get a nice graphical screen to choose which system to boot, and it should be able to detect everything automatically. If you don't like linux, you don't ever actually have to boot into it (except maybe to configure your boot screen). All you care about is the boot loader.
Windows, on the other hand, will relegate you to either using the bios to choose which hard drive to boot or editing the boot.ini file to show you a text screen (In XP, right click on
"My Computer", choose the
"Advanced" tab, and click the
"Settings" button in the
"Start and Recovery" area to see the screen where you can set that up.)